Hammond area voters face school tax on May 3 ballot

Hammond-area voters will take another look on May 3 at passing a tax millage to support Hammond schools’ magnet and accelerated programs.

Early voting begins Saturday.

The Tangipahoa Parish School Board is asking voters in Consolidated School District No. 1 to approve a 10-year, 15-mill property tax for the programs. A similar proposition was narrowly defeated May 4.

School Board Vice Chairman Brett Duncan said the programs at issue — International Baccalaureate, Montessori and various magnet and accelerated programs — cost about $3.2 million a year to operate.

Those costs primarily are to cover salaries and benefits for the 62 teachers required to run those programs, Duncan said. They don’t include the purchase of materials and teacher training, which have been paid for with grant funds and a 9-mill tax that expired in 2012, Duncan said.

“The only thing we’ll collect for, going forward, is essentially protecting the investment we’ve already made and keeping these programs in place,” Duncan said.

The new millage, if approved, would generate an estimated $3.6 million annually, according to the proposition.

The voting district has been reduced by four Ponchatoula-area precincts since the 2013 tax defeat.

Those four precincts’ votes, alone, were not enough to account for the defeat, but school board members said it made no sense for Ponchatoula residents to vote on a Hammond-based tax.

The changes made the voting district’s boundaries more closely resemble the Hammond schools’ attendance zone.